Hyundai's Kona Electric has range and power to go with style and amenities
Hyundai's Kona Electric: Going the distance The Hyundai Kona Electric looks more chic than the engine-powered Kona, with its grille-less front, special wheels and two-tone paintwork. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

You might think driving Hyundai's powerful Kona Electric crossover in Eco mode is akin to digging into your favourite chicken rice dish with toothpicks.

Especially if it is the Long Range variant, which has a motor that makes 150kW (that's over 200hp) and 395Nm of torque.

You would not have to imagine very hard what those numbers translate to in a compact body like the Kona's. Yes, mouth-watering performance and instant gratification on the tarmac.

Why would anyone pare that down by selecting the Eco drive mode?

Surprisingly, the electrified Kona is quite adequate even in this mode - so much so that it remained the preferred mode over a four-day test-drive.

Brisk overtaking is still within reach in this energy-saving mode. So are quick getaways from the lights, effortless merging and the satisfaction that comes with knowing the car can and will deliver on every whim of your right foot - instantly.

So, if you want to preserve range, driving this Hyundai in Eco is the way to go. It is quite painless, without the ridiculously diluted performance and air-conditioning efficiency which often accompany this mode in other cars, including non-electric ones.

I clocked 265km over four days, with 200km remaining, making it the electric car with the longest range I have driven. This was with indulgent moments in Comfort and Sport modes and four to five people on board frequently.

And 465km is very close to Hyundai's declared range of 482km.

Clearly, you can drive this car to Kuala Lumpur on one charge, with many kilometres to spare. For jaunts to Malacca, you won't even have to juice up for the return trip.

And if you do not live on a landed property, you can charge the car at a public charger just once every 10 days. That is based on the national average of 45km clocked a day.

The Kona Electric is pleasing in other ways. It looks more chic than the engine-powered Kona, with its grille-less front, special wheels and two-tone paintwork.

Inside, Hyundai has managed to make plastic look futuristic rather than cheap. A two-tone scheme with pastel shades ups the car's chic quotient.

Modern amenities line the cockpit, like an 8-inch infotainment screen, push-button "gear" selection, electric parking brake with auto hold, steering-mounted cruise control, ventilated seats (a favourite) and paddles to modulate the car's brake power regeneration.

Pulling the left paddle slows the car down to a complete halt and holding position.

In Eco mode, the instrumentation shows how many kilometres you are recuperating each time you brake or coast. Quite satisfying to behold.

As a driving machine, the Kona Electric has a rather twitchy steering and a harder-than-expected ride. Body roll is also more evident than expected.

But as with electric cars, the Kona is extremely quiet and vibration-free - traits which remain constant, no matter which drive mode it is in.